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Creating friendly spaces for adolescence, youth reproductive health

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(BY: RENE V. CARBAYAS)    Young people possesses a lot of energy that could be channeled to more fruitful and productive endeavor. But when left uncontrolled because of poor guidance and parenting, this energy could lead to misdemeanor and destructive behaviors.

The world observed International Youth Day on August 12. In irony, in spite of the energies of the young not much fun fare or spectacle happened. Nevertheless, this is an opportune time for the adult community to look at how the youth in our society are being taken care of and being guided for the future.

During the recent multi-sectoral consultative meeting on adolescence and youth reproductive health in Isabela city, the Department of Health reported that there are 20 million adolescence ages 10-19 years old and that one out of ten women age 15-19 years old is already a mother. It added that STD, HIV and AIDS, drugs, alcohol and smoking are increasing among adolescents, thus this increases health risky behaviour among Filipino adolescents. Risky behavior means diseases and eventually increases cost on government health programs.

More than government spending, the future of this country is at stake because most of this young people will be our future leaders. Young as they are, vulnerable and easily swayed, institutions are challenged to shape and form them towards becoming active and productive participant of a better society.

Adolescents are confronted with identity issues and sexuality concerns. Parents seldom talk about youth stuffs in the family and the growing kids share all their secrets and growing up escapades among themselves. The internet and the social media became their avenue to explore and discuss personal issues and concerns.

This was recognized by concerned government agencies and initiatives are being tested and created to reach out to more young people.

Last July 11, 2014, government agencies and non-government organization, including the academe, the military and police gathered to celebrate World Population Day. The gathering was also an occasion where the different key government and non-government organizations shared their respective programs related to adolescence and youth reproductive health.

At the consultation meeting with the theme “Investing in Young People”, the stakeholders recognize the need for a youth-friendly space in clinics, health centers, guidance and counseling offices, and even at social welfare offices and barangay halls. Youth-friendly spaces require not only a desk or table or even a corner, but this include personnel that is equipped with skills and knowledge about the needs of adolescence and youth in the community.

These spaces must provide the atmosphere of trust and openness so that young people can comfortably share their personal thoughts and problems. Where there is openness and sharing, there will be opportunity for healing. A healed youth is a better youth. A better youth is a better society.

Government agencies like the Population Commission-IX, the Isabela City Schools Division-DepEd, the Department of Health, the Isabela City Government, and the Philippine Information Agency, among others with non-government organizations like the Nagdilaab Foundation and the USAID programs (Mindanao Health Jhpiego, ENGAGE, MYDev), including the military and other security sectors have fostered to start a partnership in providing consolidated interventions in addressing adolescence and youth reproductive health issues.

By: RVC/PIA9-ZBST




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